Spotlight: Justice League Dark #23

(w) Jeff Lemire

(a) Mikel Janin

How is Jeff Lemire outperforming Geoff Johns at writing an event that Johns himself developed? “Trinity War” has been a lot of fun so far, with ups and downs that have kept readers guessing and wanting to know more. The odd part, is that Johns’ issues simply can’t hold a candle to Justice League Dark #22 and #23. Of course, Justice League #23 has yet to be released, so I can’t speak to that. Also, Justice League of America #6 and #7 bill the two as co-writers, though both issues feel more like Johns’ work than Lemire’s.

Justice_League_Dark_Vol_1-23_Cover-3_Teaser

In truth, Justice League Dark has been the best part of “Trinity War”. A large part of that is due to Mikel Janin’s absolutely beautiful art on every single page. Joe Prado and Doug Mahnke are great in their own rights, but Janin is able to capture each character in this story almost flawlessly. Each character has a unique look to set them apart from the others. And the close-up on Element Woman looked damn near photorealistic. Janin’s style may not have as many lines and crosshatching as other artists, yet he’s able to achieve a realism so bright that it makes you stop and simply admire how good of an artist he truly is. This is hands-down some of Janin’s best work and it shows.

** SPOILERS AHEAD **

Justice League of America #7 was a filler issue to lead up to this week’s Justice League Dark #23. While not a whole lot happened in the former, the latter is stuffed with various pieces moving around the board. Wonder Woman loses control of the ever-intensifying Pandora’s Box, A.R.G.U.S.’s headquarters are gone, Amanda Waller is under suspicion for setting the whole thing up in hopes the various Leagues would tear each other apart, and Pandora’s still just dicking around without much of a purpose. The biggest and most important of these events is Pandora’s Box, obviously, but Pandora herself is also interesting insomuch as she’s not interesting at all.

“Trinity War” is about not only the trinity of Justice Leagues, but also the Trinity of Sin: Pandora, The Phantom Stranger, and The Question. And while the other two have their levels of importance, I was under the assumption (as I believe many, many people were) that “Trinity War” would focus a bit more on Pandora and her connection to the DCnU. Well, we got a bit of her backstory in the first two issues of her solo series, but if you aren’t reading that, then good luck finding any importance in Pandora whatsoever. All she does in this issue is run around shooting her guns aimlessly and without regard. At one point, it feels like she’s purposely protecting Stargirl, but the moment fades and even if it persisted, why would Pandora go out of her way to protect Stargirl? There’s been no previous connection between the two characters and it felt a bit silly to throw that in so far into the game.

Even though Justice League of America #7‘s big, last page revelation was that Wonder Woman was in possession of Pandora’s Box, she loses control almost as quickly as she gained it, leading to it’s new owner who is simultaneously the first and last person I’d expect to see holding the most evil box in all of history: Shazam. Billy takes the box from Wonder Woman hoping to put an end to the fighting only to be possessed by it’s evil magic that uses Shazam’s power as a conduit to infect all magic throughout the world and other dimensions. It’s a breathtaking scene made even more intense by Janin’s stellar artwork. Pandora’s Box also turns Shazam’s costume from red to black, insinuating the return of Black Adam in some way. Shazam is one of the most powerful characters in the DCnU, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him beat down three Justice Leagues at the same time.

Justice League Dark #23 is the only issue of “Trinity War” I could imagine someone reading without wondering what was going on the entire time. Jeff Lemire is able to make the issue function as a self-sustainable issue that is enjoyable whether you’re reading “Trinity War” or not. Now, I can’t say for certain it would be a fun read if you haven’t read the previous four chapters because I have read every issue of the event so far. That being said, Lemire makes sure to include a quick overview at the beginning of the issue, the three plot lines makes sense in their placement and how they connect to one another, and the battle against Dark Shazam is contained enough to entice almost any DC fan to pick up a copy just to marvel at all the characters involved in one brawl.

GRADE

8.5/10

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